Tuesday September 19, 2006: Lenny and his cellie Bandit were moved to the ‘White Rep’ cell, number 1. Three guys from each of the races which make up the vast majority of occuppants – Hispanics, Blacks and Whites – occupy the first three cells. They are allowed out of their cell from breakfast till the end of the last dayroom when everyone is locked up for final count. They are charged with cleaning the dayroom, showers, serving meals, and running errands for the guys who are locked in the cells 21 hours a day. Boone – the white rep who was here when I arrived - is the third man in the cell with Lenny and Bandit. He goes to court Friday to be sentenced, and if the rotation holds true, I would be next to go down there. It’s hard to understand how much moving to another cell providing the opportunity to clean toilets after 75 maniacs fouls them, appeals to me. Life is taking turns I just could never believe possible. Whoever said “everything is relative” might have been in such a situation as myself.
Jeff bothers me. He constantly offers me advice out of the clear blue with no encouragement from me. He operates under the assumption he is some type of wise man. He is a 39 year old dope fiend who inherited enough money once to travel to Australia and China then return to live in his van. The trip was over 15 years ago, yet I heard about it within five minutes of meeting Jeff, and he spoke about it as if he returned yesterday. He has been in and out of jail so often, he cannot remember exactly how many times he has been arrested. When he told me again, after I insisted he must know, he shook his head and laughed. “I don’t know, cause I don’t care!” This made me wonder if this was how my lawyer viewed me; did he think I could not remember my arrests and legal entanglements, like Jeff? Half his teeth are gone, he was a 10th grade dropout and has not worked regular – ever! How does someone make it to nearly 40 years of age without ever having to be on time for work? Without ever paying a utility bill? Or had a bank account or driver’s license, and yet still view himself as a beacon to turn to in times of troubles? How does one reach that point of self-delusion? I would really like to know, because on some level, I envied Jeff. He was not stressed out by his predicament, in fact, he did not even see this as a predicament. It was a place to get some sleep, eat three meals a day, put on some weight and get healthy. While I was producing something with my insides rivaling the worst sewer odors any third world slum ever emitted, stressing over what to do with a lawyer I was fairly certain was working against me, Jeff slept. While I waited in the line at the phones to call the attorney, Jeff filled out forms to go to the dentist. “Think I’ll get this tooth that’s been bothering me pulled while I’m here,” he said to in passing as I stood in the phone line, forcing bile back down my throat. It was like a day spa for those mentally relieved from the ability to engage reality. When conversations around Jeff circled back to the inevitable topic, ‘What I am going to do first when I get out’, Jeff never hesitated to respond. “I’m gonna get high,” he would say time and again with nonchalance. Then the conversation would veer into everyone talking at once about their drug of choice, and how it was second thing they were going to do. Jeff was not a liar. There were no false airs trying to impress other cesspool dwellers, when he was on the streets he was doing big things. Jeff was not doing anything, did not intend to do anything – except the aforementioned ‘getting high’ – and did not want to do anything. As the other guys struggled to come up with the word ‘Broker’ or otherwise explain their vast wealth and holdings which must be tended to before they get high; or the supermodel girlfriend who is suffering through a painful celibate period in their absence and must be carnally satisfied before they can think about a dalliance with dope, Jeff just threw his plans out there without regard for the collective think tank and their responses. When myself or someone else could not or would not eat an unidentified object on our meal tray, Jeff gladly accepted it and scarfed it down greedily. He never complained, never used the phone, or expressed worry in any way detectable. He really bothered me.
Two phone calls to my attorney were unsuccessful in making contact. His secretary did not know his schedule for the remainder of the week. That is what she told me. I am sure Jeff would believe her, but I am just a bit more skeptical. Not that it’s doing me any good.